CFA Institute Finds Graduates’ Outlook on Careers is Confident Despite Pandemic

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New survey finds finance remains a top career choice; graduates consider more education and credentials; optimism exists while reevaluating career trajectories

Mumbai, 13 October 2021: CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals, today releases results from a survey conducted on the career outlook of more than 15,000 current university students and recent graduates aged 18-25 from 15 markets, including Australia, Hong Kong SAR, India, Japan and Singapore in the Asia Pacific region. The results find that globally, 58 percent of respondents still feel confident about their future career prospects in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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The findings also indicate that traditionally stable fields, such as finance, remain attractive for graduates navigating these uncertain times. In fact, respondents across all 15 markets ranked finance as one of the top five most valuable majors for finding a career. Overall, graduates felt that medicine/science was most stable and attractive, followed by healthcare and education.

Vidhu Shekhar, CFA, CIPM, Country Head, India, CFA Institute, said, “It is good to see optimism among young people graduating and starting their career amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been quick to embrace hybrid workplaces, dynamic work hours and dispersed teams”.

Graduates have a positive outlook overall, despite the COVID-19 pandemic causing them to reassess their career paths.

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A majority of graduates believe their future career will be as good or better than their parents’ generation, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings showed that those studying accounting and finance were particularly confident, with 80 percent believing their prospects are as good or better than their parents’ generation, compared to three quarters (75 percent) of respondents overall. 

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Despite this overall confidence, nearly half (45 percent) of the Asia Pacific respondents reported they are reassessing their career paths in light of the pandemic — their top concerns now include feeling underqualified for the job they want (24 percent); low pay in their preferred sector (23 percent), wage reductions as a result of the pandemic (22 percent) and lack of jobs in their preferred sector (22 percent). Forty-six percent of respondents in Asia Pacific said their perceptions on career prospects, desires and expectations have changed since the pandemic outbreak, and 41 percent of respondents said they have had to reassess the sector they want to go into after the pandemic. 

Further education is key in the volatile job market

Another primary concern for students is developing work-related skills during degree programs and after graduating. Those surveyed in Asia Pacific shared personal insecurities about this, with one in five respondents (20 percent) saying they feel the lack of career progression in their preferred sector and that they do not feel ready for the working world. 

When approaching the current complex job market, students and graduates see value in further education. Eighty-five percent of respondents in Asia Pacific feel that upskilling and post-graduate qualifications are important in the current job market, and more than half of respondents (51 percent) believe postgraduate qualifications/professional certification will give them an edge when looking for a job. 

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This is causing a significant uptake of further studies, with more than 40 percent (42 percent) of graduates planning to prolong their time in education.

“Widespread adoption of e-learning has meant that more people can pursue higher education and training without leaving their jobs. As more students and recent graduates choose non-traditional education, the pandemic may end up yielding a more highly skilled workforce.” Vidhu Shekhar added.

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Graduates want to make a positive impact

Working in an industry that makes a positive societal and environmental contribution ranks very important to recent graduates, with 84 percent of respondents in Asia Pacific saying it’s an important part of their career choice. Worryingly, only 9 percent of respondents see being an investment professional as a career in which they could make positive environmental and societal impact. This finding shows that to retain talent, the sector must do more to educate students around the positive impact they could have by a career in investment.  

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Key findings in India

  1. 65% of Indian university students and recent graduates are still confident in their future career prospects in the wake of Covid-19, and 63% feel their prospects are better than their parents’ generation. However, close to 63% say that Covid-19 has had some negative impact on their long-term career prospects
  2. 52% of respondents say they are reassessing their career paths in consideration of the pandemic, while 55% say their perceptions on career prospects, desires and expectations have changed since the COVID-19 outbreak
  3. IT & Telecoms, Education, Government, Media & Marketing and Finance were identified as the top-five most sought-after industries for career choices
  4. Lack of jobs and low pay in their preferred sector were identified as their two biggest fears with regards to their job prospects
  5. 55% of respondents plan to prolong their time in education while the job market is still volatile 
  6. 93% of respondents believe that upskilling and postgraduate qualifications are important in the current job market, while 64% believe that postgraduate qualifications/professional certification will give them an edge in the current job market and will help in securing higher earnings
  7. 97% feel that having a professional certification would have an impact on their earnings prospects, job fulfilment and opportunities.

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About Censuswide

Censuswide is an international market research consultancy headquartered in Clerkenwell, London. Our dedicated and passionate teams are expert across various areas, including healthcare, corporate, international and consumer research. Over the years we have partnered with insights, communication and marketing teams in the world’s most respected companies. At the heart of our business is our clients and we pride ourselves on our care. Our dedicated account managers provide expert consultancy through a project’s various stages and we work closely with clients to understand their challenges.

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About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials. The organization is a champion of ethical behavior in investment markets and a respected source of knowledge in the global financial community. Our aim is to create an environment where investors’ interests come first, markets function at their best, and economies grow. There are more than 175,000 CFA charterholders worldwide in 160 markets. CFA Institute has nine offices worldwide and there are 160 local societies.

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